- Associated Press - Sunday, May 21, 2017

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The city’s modest claim to fame in shaping the nation’s vehicular culture is about to be phased out of downtown Oklahoma City.

Jason Ferbrache, director of the city’s Public Transportation and Parking Department, told the Journal Record (http://bit.ly/2q2WmJX ) that finding replacement parts for coin-operated, curbside parking meters is nearly impossible these days. At the same time, transient consumers expect higher-tech alternatives that don’t depend on random pocket change.

Ferbrache told the City Council that nearly 600 old-style parking meters will be phased out in the 2017-2018 fiscal year, to be updated by an electronic car-tag tracking system operated by keyboard kiosk. The update will cost $160,000, one of many items being considered by council members toward enacting a new budget that will be effective July 1.

If the change is approved, it will be the end of an era launched by Carlton C. Magee, founder of the Magee-Hale Park-O-Meter Co. in Oklahoma City.

In 1935, Magee was appointed to the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce traffic committee and tasked with solving the problem of drivers who took valuable street space and refused to move. He worked with Oklahoma State University engineering professor Gerald A. Hale to design a working model, which was installed later that year.

In 1938, Magee was awarded a patent for “a meter for measuring the time of occupancy or use of parking or other space for the use of which it is desirous an incidental charge be made upon a time basis.” He was inducted to the Oklahoma Inventors Hall of Fame in 2002.

Oklahoma City Hall has already been experimenting with newer models, the latest of which replaced several meters in a row with a single kiosk that accepts credit cards and prints windshield stickers. Department spokesman Michael Scroggins said the proposed change will remove nearly all the remaining 598 coin meters across the city, replace them with kiosks and add several more. The department will invest in a pay-by-plate system that allows drivers to move from space to space in the same area with a single payment. Scroggins said that is likely to evolve into a smartphone app option as well.

The advantages are obvious, officials said: fewer coins to collect, happier consumers, networked data feedback and easier repairs. The new meters are manufactured by New Jersey-based Parkeon and installed by Weatherbee Electric Inc. in Oklahoma City.

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Information from: The Journal Record, http://www.journalrecord.com

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